Saturday, January 03, 2009
Oh boy, this one hurts. Westlake and I had several friends in common
and all spoke affectionately and respectfully of him, always. His
personality was as large, it seems, as the shadow from his prose.
Everyone else was in second place. I very much hoped to meet him
and add him to my series of interviews with crime writers but we were
never in the same place at the same time. A great writer who may
be my all-time favorite, who convinced me again of the undying beauty
of the novel and the mystery form. For many years there's been no
one who I'd seek out in the bookstores like Westlake. A new Stark
was an event for me. Just a great great loss. I have so few heroes
Death seems to have greeted him as a professional, swift and sudden,
without emotion or hesitation. A Westlake moment. Despite his
subjects, and the controlled mayhem of his characters. Westlake was a
writer of elegance and compassion. I was pleased last week because
I'd found a copy of his first novel. I was going to quote from
another of his books but I've pulled it out often enough that it
wasn't filed with its cousins, a book he did not claim but that I
returned to, on occasion, because it filled me with a great sense of
compassion. It consoled me and made some of life's challenges easier
This is the life of a writer. You will touch the lives of those you
have never met. You will help them through their own private hells
and they will weep, someday, when you are gone.
I'll have to go and reread some of my favorite memories with the
guy. He left us so much.
If you want to donate, there's a PayPal button at the link.
# Driver pulled over by police
# Claims he's on way to pick up Paris Hilton
# Cocaine, Viagra allegedly found"
A thriller writer whose books in this country were published under the single name Simmel.
Their task was set by Edge, an online intellectual discussion group, which claims its membership comprises 'the most interesting minds in the world'.
The responses spanned new methods of energy production, the dawn of telepathy, freely available artificial intelligence and the colonisation of the Milky Way."
But Genevich has a case, and it's a big one. It involves photographs that someone brings to his office, photographs that someone else wants to get his hands on. And there's a mysterious "it" that Genevich is supposed to find. He doesn't know what "it" is because of the hallucinations, but it has to do with Genevich's father, who's been dead since Genevich was five. Digging into the past can be dangerous for a guy with normal sleep patterns. For Genevich, it's double tough.
I've never used the phrase "new noir" before, but I think I will now. The Little Sleep is new noir with panache. Coming in March, I think. Check it out.
Including 750,000-year-old ice cubes.
Friday, January 02, 2009
New Texas sheriff closes jail amid FBI probe | Top Stories | Star-Telegram.com: "Jack McGaughey, district attorney for Montague, Clay and Archer counties, declined to say what prompted the investigation, also being conducted by the Texas Rangers. But he said authorities found contraband in the Montague County Jail.
He also said some surveillance cameras' cords had been disconnected; recliners were in cells; some bathrooms and cells could be locked from the inside; and inmates had made partitions out of paper towels to block jailers' view inside their cells. One alarming discovery was a type of rack made of nails, he said."
I never even heard of any of these guys except for Atkins.
Scientists have long blamed climate change for the extinctions, for it was 12,900 years ago that the planet's emergence from the Ice Age came to a halt, reverting to glacial conditions for 1,500 years, an epoch known as the Younger Dryas.
In just the last few years, there has arisen a controversial scientific hypothesis to explain this chain of events, and it involves an extraterrestrial calamity: a comet, broken into fragments, turning the sky ablaze, sending a shock wave across the landscape and scorching forests, creatures, people and anything exposed to the heavenly fire."
The Big Bopper's 16-gauge steel casket was exhumed last year from his original grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont so it could be moved to a more visible location with a life-sized statue and historic marker. The disinterment also offered forensic experts a chance - with his family's blessing - to examine the pop singer's unautopsied remains after his death in rock 'n' roll's first great tragedy."
The last time Paul Bandel, 50, saw combat was in the early 1990s during the Gulf War."
'It’s been a hard day’s night
And I’ve been working like a dog'
The opening chord to 'A Hard Day’s Night' is also famous because, for 40 years, no one quite knew exactly what chord Harrison was playing."
eFanzines.com - Earl Kemp: e*I* Vol. 3 No. 2: "Donald Westlake says he wrote 28 sleaze paperback books prior to 1962, mostly under the pseudonym of Alan Marshall (Alan Marsh). Following, by year, is a list of published Alan Marshall novels. This list is made in an effort to identify those 28 acknowledged Alan Marshall Donald E. Westlake novels and a few other confirmed writings. This list is limited to Marshall books published prior to 1965 and has every possibility of being wrong as well as missing some titles that should be included."
The best of the latter, I think, is After Things Fell Apart, which was published in 1970 and set a few decades in the future, after things have fallen apart. Maybe now. Jim Haley is a private-eye who works for The Private Inquiry Office in San Francisco. In this case, his inquiries lead him to such places as "the wide-open sin town of San Rafael, run by the amateur Mafia (no Italians allowed) and "the Nixon Institute, where aging rock stars reminisce about the days when they still had hair."
I've heard some people say that Goulart's humor is an acquired taste. If so, I acquired it long ago. Well before 1970, even, and I found this book hilarious, also a little touching and sad. The satire is as sharp today as it was nearly 40 years ago. The book comes complete with raves from writers such as Philip K. Dick, and it was nominated for an Edgar, so surely I'm not alone.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Donald E. Westlake, Mystery Writer, Is Dead at 75 - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com: "Donald E. Westlake, a prolific, award-winning mystery novelist who pounded out more than 100 books and five screenplays on manual typewriters during his half-century career, died Wednesday night. He was 75.
Mr. Westlake collapsed, apparently from a heart attack, as he headed out to New Year’s Eve dinner while on vacation in San Tancho, Mexico, said his wife, Abigail Westlake."
In its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on Monday, Fairport, N.Y.-based GateHouse Media, which publishes more than 100 papers in Massachusetts, accuses the Times of violating copyright by allowing its Boston Globe online unit to copy verbatim the headlines and first sentences from articles published on sites owned by GateHouse, including the Newton Tab."
The Catcher in the Rye spoke to me like no other book I read in the 1950s. No doubt it's lost much of its effectiveness for youngsters over the years, but to me it will always be one of the greats.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I'm not much of a party animal, either. I suspect I'll be asleep tonight long before the new year comes sneaking into Alvin on little cat feet. Don't think I'm such a slug, though. I'll probably be up before 6:30 tomorrow morning and out for the morning jog of three or four miles within the hour.
If this is a time for memories of auld lang syne, I can remember the days when I could easily run three miles at an eight-minute pace. Now, it takes me longer. A lot longer. Age slows a fella down against his will Some of you knew that already. The rest of you will find out, eventually.
The year 2009 has been a hectic one for us here in Alvin. Judy's lymphoma, the death of Judy's mom, Angela's wedding, Hurricane Ike. My hope is that 2009 will be a lot calmer for us and for the whole world.
And for all the readers of this blog, no matter where you are, I wish the very best of everything in 2009, health and happiness all around. Thanks for reading the blog and for buying my books. Here's to you.
Juli Sarpy paid $1,200 for a three-day ad promoting a 'savvy chic stylopolitan fashion guru.'"
The school in Michigan's Upper Peninsula released its 34th version Tuesday containing 15 entries selected from about 5,000 nominations."
In Sydney to host an exclusive New Year's dance party, the 27-year-old heir to the Hilton hotel fortune this week drew criticism for spending 5,560 Australian dollars (3,844 US dollars) in a 40-minute shopping spree.
Local charities accused her of callous excess but Hilton Wednesday defended the splurge.
'I'm in Australia, I think it's important to help out, you know, the economy out here, everywhere in the world,' she told reporters, ahead of her New Year engagement."
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Officials suspect that 9 million gallons of sewage possibly spilled into Stewart Creek in Frisco over the past two weeks. But inspectors say initial testing of the lake water revealed normal conditions."
The Registry is Library of Congress’ film preservation initiative, designed to ensure that pics that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant will be preserved for all time. As always, this year’s selections range from classics to obscure gems such as “Disneyland Dream,” a Connecticut family’s 1956 home movie of their trip to Disneyland after winning a contest sponsored by Scotch Brand Cellophane Tape."
The list also includes The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.
This is our All-Canadian issue, featuring authors from the land of Labatts and back bacon. Featured authors include Derringer Award Winner Nick Andreychuk, Art Montague, Claude Lalumiere, Jason S. Ridler, Steve Olley, and Matthew Fries. We'll also have a reprint of a 1914 article from the New York Times reviewing and discussing Frank Norris's first novel, VANDOVER AND THE BRUTE, and Part Four of our serialization of Norris's massive 1901 naturalistic proto-noir work, McTEAGUE.
The Back Alley Webzine ( www.backalleywebzine.com ) is your one-stop shop for hardboiled and noir works by both established and emerging voices in the field. Check out our new All-Canadian issue beginning tomorrow, December 31, and have a terrific New Year!
After all, Smith, a California musician, was inspired by the hit National Treasure movies starring Nicolas Cage. And like any good swashbuckling flick, there's a dramatic tale — this one involving cannibalized 19th-century sailors who supposedly left the pot of gold and silver behind in Refugio County in South Texas."
Maybe that's one of the points. We keep losing things in life, people keep dying, and we want it to stop, just as Turner does. But it doesn't stop, and when you come right down to it, there's not a lot we can do about it other than endure, if we can even do that.
Sounds bleak, right? And it is. When it comes to putting his characters through hell, Sallis yields to nobody, not even Ken Bruen, and like Bruen, Sallis presents it all in beautifully poetic prose in a very short novel, sounding an elegiac note throughout. You have to wonder why a lot more people aren't on the Sallis bandwagon. He's one of the best writers around.
According to an IDC News Service report this week, LG will debut the first-ever wrist phone at CES next month. The LG-GD910, which will debut in Europe and eventually elsewhere, is based on a prototype introduced at last January's CES. It includes a 1.4-inch touchscreen display, as well as buttons down the side."
The familiar-sounding duo are not Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, but characters created earlier in a similar style by the same writer, PG Wodehouse.
The story, Providence and the Butler, can be read in full in today’s Sunday Times Magazine for the first time since 1910.
It has been lost since it was published in a literary magazine produced by the Washington Herald when Wodehouse was 29 and working for thePlum” Wodehouse’s work, it shows some of the thinking behind not just the Jeeves and Wooster stories but also the Blandings Castle books, begun in 1915 and also set in an ancient stately home."
So police assumed they had a crocodile, a native of Australia's tropical north, when vacationers caught a reptile in a volleyball net late Monday that had been wandering around their campsite in Pambula, New South Wales.
State police on Tuesday corrected an initial press statement to explain that the 5-foot (1.5-meter) reptile was, in fact, an alligator."
Monday, December 29, 2008
It's hundreds of years in the future. WALL *E is essentially a trash compactor, the last of his kind. He mashes metal into cubes and stacks the cubes, day after day. But there's more. He's developed, or has always had, consciousness. He saves certain things (a lighter, a Rubik's cube, and so on). He has a companion (a cockroach). One day a spaceship delivers EVE, a robot looking for signs of plant life. WALL *E falls for her, and he has the only living plant on Earth. After that, things get complicated, with chase scenes, rogue robots, a HAL counterpart (voiced by Sigourney Weaver), and more.
I should mention that there's very little dialog, but even if there were less, you'd have no trouble at all following things. Steve Stilwell told me I should see this on the big screen. I'm sorry I didn't, but I'm glad I finally saw it.
Hat tip to Todd Mason.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
The actress died in her sleep at a nursing home on Christmas Day from complications following a series of strokes, said her manager, Kent Adamson.
Her Hollywood career had largely been over since the mid-1950s, but she had a resurgence over the past year with a starring role in Canadian cult filmmaker Guy Maddin's 'My Winnipeg.'
Starting with her 1943 debut in the crime story 'One Dangerous Night,' Savage made more than 30 films through the 1950s, including Westerns ('Saddles and Sagebrush,''Satan's Cradle'), musicals ('Dancing in Manhattan,''Ever Since Venus') and wartime tales ('Passport to Suez,''Two-Man Submarine')."
Now, they get MySpace pages.
A new breed of crime fan is turning to the Web to humanize drug capos and glorify their deeds.
MySpace is home to the most extravagant tributes, but lower-profile pages have also been created on the rival Facebook. In most cases, profiles are written as though the drug boss himself is the profile creator."